What is it with the New York Times and credulous writers named Judith? Judith Warner's column this morning, Getting Beyond Camelot, shows that while most Americans forget things way too quickly, some New York Democrats have memories entirely too long.
Marcia Pappas, president of the New York State chapter of the National Organization for Women told me, politely: "We can have a number of people who are qualified and we have to be very respectful of people and their talents, but when it comes down to it, we have to be grown-ups. We think this position should go to someone who's paid her dues, who's done the work."
Well, isn't that sober and well reasoned? It is fortunate that Judith Warner went out of her way to find a truly disinterested actor like Marcia Pappas to comment on Caroline Kennedy's interest in the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton.
Gosh, it is? That's embarrassing. I guess Pappas's comments at the time flew beneath the radar.
Oh wait, they were prominently featured by Huffington Post's own Sam Stein, on Politico by Ben Smith, in The Atlantic by Marc Ambinder, Pappas appeared on MSNBC to defend her remarks, and a plucky little fishwrapper called the New York Times ran a few stories about her?
Remember when people working at big newspapers used Lexis-Nexis and stuff?
The anti-Caroline Kennedy forces work on a simple, old paradigm. "Look," they say, "over here! Here's some high minded concerns about experience and electability for you to consider." And we all dutily debate whether Caroline Kennedy is qualified enough, etc. Meanwhile, the real story is that this is all a power game by vengeful Clintonistas.
Democratic House Representative Anthony Weiner, who Gawker's Pareene observes, "we hope runs for mayor and loses and then retires to Florida maybe, in 2009," let the cat out of the bag when he opined: "This isn't a jihad or anything, but I'd be lying to you if I said that supporters of Hillary don't remember where she was in the primary."
Oh Anthony, and here we've been trying to politely forget where you people were in the primary. Silly us.
To be clear, not all former Clinton supporters in New York are against Kennedy. As Al Giordano observes, many of the Clintonistas have moved on. Jeralyn of Talkleft, one of the most diehard bastions of Clinton sentiment in the dying days of the primary, says she thinks Caroline Kennedy would make a fine Senator. It's just that it seems like everyone who opposes her with a D behind their name is a Clintonista.
Barack Obama choose Caroline Kennedy to lead his Vice Presidential search committee. He's not the sort of guy who puts people in sensitive positions based on patronage or favors. He has confidence in Kennedy's abilities. She wouldn't be in the conversation without his approval. Since the head of the party wants her and she's got a good progressive record, that should be the end of the discussion.
Have you heard a single policy objection to Caroline Kennedy? The anti-Kennedy forces are pushing a woman named Carolyn Maloney, who seems to be a decent enough liberal who went with the crowd in 2002 and voted for the Iraq War. (To her credit, by 2006 she turned against it.) Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama were against the war from the beginning. I would be startled if Caroline deviated from their thinking on it.
I was particularly disappointed to see Jane Hamsher sneer at Caroline Kennedy. Hamsher snarked, "Caroline Kennedy has decided she'd rather have a US Senate seat than a pony for Christmas."
Hamsher's first claim to fame was supporting Ned Lamont. Lamont's loss to quisling Joe Lieberman still stings. Jane, didn't Lieberman disingenuously make the same arguments against Lamont that you now make against Caroline Kennedy? Lamont is a great man, but he's a man from a patrician family with no electoral experience whatsoever. Did Ned just want a pony, too, Jane? Let's save the pony talk for the people who deserve it, shall we?
Caroline Kennedy will have to run for election in 2010 and 2012. If she's a bad Senator, she can face a primary challenge in both. The arguments against her, are of course, a perverse insight into the fears of her opponents within the party and in the GOP. They know that fifty-something Caroline is a practical lock to be Senator for the next thirty years. Heaven forbid.
Let's not reward the drama seekers. Caroline Kennedy should be the next junior Senator from New York.